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Campbell Global Voices

4 th Quarter Project:

What is African?

Basic Objectives After selecting a specific African country for your focus, you will attempt to answer two questions:

What is specifically, uniquely African about this country? and

What does this country share with one of the countries / continents that we have met earlier, i.e. Asia and South America? To provide an initial, helpful background, you will also collect and present general, encyclopedic information about your country: population; geography; capitals; resources & industries, etc. However, this basic information should serve only to ground and contextualize the two more important questions above. Don’t make the mistake of re creating a grade school presentation, when a complex, layered and interconnected collegelevel response is required.

Overview Often we respond to the unfamiliar in two, necessarily limiting ways:

We reduce the unknown to an exotic other: the elaborate tea ceremony performed by a Japanese geisha, the sun worshipping “cults” of the Incans and Aztecs erecting stone cities and pyramids, the Indian Hindu ritually bathing himself in the divine waters of the Ganges.

We swallow the unknown and melt or digest its differences, so that it is then a part of a bland, colorless, “civilized” universal: mankind, not Chinese; humanity, not Peruvian. Our project will require us to hold both of these positions simultaneously; perhaps we will achieve what is known as “cognitive dissonance” from the acceptance of two opposing “truths”. The African, therefore, will be animistic, primitive, and tribal, while also being postcolonial, literate, and globalized.

Helpful Limitations and Focusing Lenses As you address the two questions, you may feel overwhelmed with a wealth of options; so many places

to start that the end is not clearly imagined, much less seen. So, to limit those many possibilities, try to focus your research within only one or two of the following fields:

economics: industries, resources, labor

culture: arts, language, sport

religion: beliefs, practices, traditions

politics: laws/legal system, representation, treaties

history: precolonial, colonized, independence

technology/science: medicine, energy, environmental management


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